Re: God's history (Was God the interactor)

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Sun Sep 04 2005 - 00:28:21 EDT

I contend that I take the implications of the Incarnation fully into
account in connection with God's involvement with the world. The
difference between us is that you take a single view, the terrestrial
one, and I insist that it is necessary philosophically to consider the
timeless and the temporal views. However, I see intimations of an
unacknowledged divine viewpoint lurking in the theology of the cross.

It is clear that God created the universe, which existed for some 13x10^9
years before human beings appeared on the earth--unless we're dealing
with a multiverse, in which case we have no time scale for an origin.
When did the Trinity recognize that human beings would need a Redeemer?
When did "they" understand the cost, the Incarnation and crucifixion?
When did the Godhead decide that I am glorified? When did God recognize
that the universe had to be sustained at 8:40 PM MST 3 September 2005?

Analyzing these questions so as not to spout nonsense requires
recognition that the human temporal view has to be distinguished from the
timeless view of the Almighty. Moses clearly looked forward to a
Redeemer, while we look back to Calvary. In contrast, God is the eternal
Redeemer, not involved in an afterthought when man turned up in his

Since human beings and their environment have to be redeemed where they
are, the Second Person emptied himself to be born in Bethlehem. One thing
this means is that he abandoned his glory, and his holiness was "toned
down." Recall that Isaiah, having a vision of the thrice holy God, cried
"Woe!" In contrast, wicked men did not hesitate to try to stone Jesus,
and finally scourged and crucified him. These things happened in time
according to the eternal will of the Father. This is history from the
human viewpoint. But if the Word WAS in the beginning, if the saints are
elect BEFORE the foundation of the kosmos, etc., there has to be a
different look as well. Our language is not suited to express this
difference. But philosophers have to try.

Is this surrendering to Greek thought and denying the Hebrew? Can't be.
It simply recognizes that a temporal deity cannot be the Creator; that a
Trinity in time does not have an eternal purpose, but one Person entering
time is the Redeemer. I can view the history of redemption in time, for
it unfolded in scripture. But I need a different, difficult viewpoint to
understand creation /cum/, not /in/.

Just why must my image of the living God be based on my getting older all
the time? Why should I put the Creator /in tempore/? Only the Word became
flesh ?in tempore/.

On Sat, 3 Sep 2005 20:12:35 -0400 "George Murphy" <>
Dave -

I apologize for my mis-statement: I recognize that you hold the
traditional Christian belief in the Incarnation. The problem from my
standpoint is not that you dodge the question about the Incarnation
itself but that you don't seem to want to take the Incarnation and its
implications into account when speaking more generally about whether or
not God can be involved with the world's temporality.

I'll repeat the point I've made previously several times: If the 2d
Person of the Trinity became a participant in our universe of space and
time then God has been involved in our time. The Incarnation is not an
"external work of the Trinity" but something that takes place within our
history. Since the history of Jesus of Nazareth is part of the inner
life of God, God has a history.

I realize that there is a very long history (!) of Christian theologians
and philosophers who try to figure out ways to affirm the Incarnation
while at the same time saying that it really didn't affect God in God's
own being but that represents an unfortunate surrender (albeit an
unconscious one) to Greek philosophy with its notion of the priority of
being over becoming. The central Christian claims of the Incarnation and
Trinity and their implications, which are supposed to be the answers to
fundamental human questions, then become problems which have to be solved
in terms of an alien metaphysic.

Instead we should start with the Incarnation, which shows that God is not
to be understood as an unchanging "substance" or "nature." Being is not
superior to becoming. Juengel expressed it very well in the title of his
book on the Trinity, Gottes Sein ist im Werden - "God's Being is in
Becoming." (Unfortunately the English translation was given the banal
title Karl Barth's Doctrine of the Trinity!) Indeed, how could we speak
of God as "the living God" if God were unchanging?

----- Original Message -----
From: D. F. Siemens, Jr.
Cc: ; ;
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005 11:58 PM
Subject: Re: God the interactor (was God the tinkerer)

I'm trying to figure what I have dodged. In previous messages I have
30 Aug.
 It is obvious that the Redeemer entered time, becoming human.

25 Aug.
 I've encountered philosophers who argued that Christianity is
nonsensical because it is impossible for the eternal to join the
temporal. They are right if the union is simple, but scripture declares
that the eternal Son emptied himself to take on the form of a servant. I
cannot imagine a mechanism whereby divine and human spirit become one,
but there is abundant evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was uniquely
special while on earth.

23 Aug.
I have not been shown that a strict orthodox theology is inconsistent. I
contend that there are usually subtle inconsistencies in positions that
vary from orthodoxy.

Further, as a member of ASA for well over 40 years, I have subscribed to
the statement of faith as it was and as it is. I affirm the ecumenical
creeds and the Apostles' Creed. Yes, the Word became flesh. Jesus of
Nazareth is the incarnate God.

Is this now enough?

On Fri, 2 Sep 2005 15:21:47 -0400 "George Murphy" <>
Dave -

You continue to dodge the crucial question: Did one of the persons of
the Trinity, who shares the divine nature, actually become a participant
in our space-time universe in the Incarnation? If your answer is "Yes"
then we can go on to deal with the questions you pose and at some point
may have to throw up our hands and say "I don't know." If your answer is
"No" then I think we have a serious theological disagreement.

Received on Sun Sep 4 00:32:55 2005

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